Does anybody know of any resources, be they online or otherwise, for teaching the basics - the very basics - of iPad use to a computerphobic person? Things like "what does the home button do?", "what is the internet?", "what is a web browser?", "what is an app?".
More details below, but basically I am at the end of my tether with trying to provide technical support to someone with zero computer awareness or willingness to learn and I need to find some way of educating them to the point where they can at least recognize when something is a problem and when it isn't.
posted by teselecta to computers & internet (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
(apologies for length, but I guess the following also contains a bit of ranting)
A 71 year old relative of mine is a complete computerphobic with absolutely no awareness of how they operate. This is largely because she grew up in a situation where I don't think she actually saw a computer before she was in her 60s, however it is also because she has a tendancy to shut down at the slightest mention of anything that might be construed as technical information (e.g. "the internet is a lot of computers connected together"). Note that she is otherwise (highly) intelligent, just very strong willed.
Looking back, it would probably been better if she had never been introduced to computers in the first place however I spent several years trying to show her how to use a PC and, although she showed initial interest, it never really resulted in actual unprompted use ("I might break something"). Despite this, she showed obvious interest and amazement at what was possible with internet access so, eventually, I decided to buy her an iPad - which she loves.
I think part of the success is that she doesn't really appreciate that it is computer. I believe she views it as a black box that provides her with her favourite news sites, encyclopedias, dictionaries and sudoku. It is incredibly simple for her to use and she uses it all the time.
So, "what's the problem?" I hear you ask. Well, she loves her iPad so much, that anything that doesn't behave the way she expects is considered "broken". This includes encountering an icon that has moved; encountering a new icon; encountering an unused icon; encountering a dead web link; etc. Basically, since the iPad requires no technical knowledge to use, this means she has absolutely no knowledge with which to rationalize about a problem.
Since most of these changes happen when I sync the iPad with the computer - usually to update to a new iOS version - she invariably blames me for these problems. I have tried explaining that sometimes Apple adds new features, or sometimes websites go down, however none of this sticks.
The problem seems to be that she cannot/will not grasp concepts such as the iPad being synchronized with a PC or that a website exists on another computer somewhere else in the world.
I have put up with this for a couple of years, however recently it has started to become stressful for me to provide this support. The most recent incident, related to an attempt to move my iTunes library to an external drive and the upgrade for iOS5, which resulted in a lots of things being temporarily wiped/changed on the iPad was bordering on catastrophic. It ended up with her distraught - seriously "you shot my dog" distraught - and in tears, ranting at me at midnight as I tried to reinstall everything, while fending her off from ripping the cables out of the computer.
Trying to explain that nothing had been lost, that everything was safely backed up on the computer, was useless. The combination of the above plus the fact that the mobile version of her favourite news websites appears to have gone down, possibly permanently, means she is now convinced that the iPad is irreparably broken (she asked me this morning if I knew any shops she could take it to after I "broke" it).
So, enough is enough. I am no longer prepared to face the strife associated with maintaining this iPad until she can gain some basic awareness of what constitutes a problem and what doesn't.
So, since I cannot seem to teach her this, which I am sure is just as much a failure on my part as hers, I need to find some other resource that she can refer to independently. However, this resource needs to be iPad-specific and incredibly basic. It cannot use any form of technical language, as least certainly not to begin with. For example, I was looking at "iPad For Seniors For Dummies", however, leaving aside the issue of how insulted she would feel being presented with something that is aimed at "Dummies", this uses words like "network", "bluetooth" and refers to the settings dialog, which would switch her off immediately.
The problem seems to be that modern society seems to expect a certain basic level of technical knowledge before you can start learning about computers.
A general computer course would be of no use, since I don't think she will make the connection between using a PC and using an iPad.
Does anybody have any solutions? How do you teach the unteachable?